Find Two 2014 Triathlon Events in Toronto

Two major triathlon events return to Toronto in 2014. In July, we host the Toronto Triathlon Festival. The Toronto Island Triathlon Weekend, in August, is organized by a completely different promoter. (Updated Aug. 11, 2014: see the Where is the Triathlon on the Toronto Islands? section below).

Where can you watch these triathlon events in Toronto? And what specific disciplines will be on display?

"Triathlon Transition Zone in St. Kilda" image by pfctdayelise (Brianna Laugher)
“Triathlon Transition Zone in St. Kilda” image by pfctdayelise (Brianna Laugher)

The Toronto Triathlon Festival in July 2014

The media will probably note that the Toronto Triathlon Festival will shut down parts of the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) and Gardiner Expressway for part of July 13, 2014.

This annual summer Toronto event has participants swimming from Ontario Place to the mainland, cycling on the Gardiner and DVP, and running along the Martin Goodman Trail south of the CNE.

The Toronto Triathlon Festival disciplines are individual and relay formats for each of the Olympic distance and sprint distance.

The Olympic distance requires a 1500m swim, 40Km bike ride, and 10Km run. This is the discipline in which Simon Whitfield won his Olympic gold medal. The organizers have invited Whitfield to provide some inspirational coaching to the competitors as part of this weekend festival.

The sprint distance offers a 750m swim, 20Km bike ride, and 5Km run.

The relay formats allow two or three athletes to specialize in the swim, bike or run portions of a race.

Spectators can watch parts of the event from a variety of locations. The focal point is Ontario Place, just south of the CNE. I would take the TTC to Coronation Park, and walk west along the Martin Goodman Trail. Watch the swim as well as the transitions from swim to bike and from bike to run in this vicinity.

The northern limit of the bike segment is the DVP at Eglinton; and the Gardiner is closed east from the South Kingsway. The westernmost run is the Martin Goodman Trail (Lakeshore West) at the South Kingsway.

Let’s remember that the 40Km bike ride requires the combined stretch of DVP from Eglinton to Gardiner at South Kingsway… twice. Imagine a few hundred competitors trying to race eight loops of a 5Km portion of the Martin Goodman trail by bicycle! They need the distance on a safe roadway.

On Sat. July 12, the “Pan Am Cup” race for elite women begins at 7:00am; the elite men’s begins at 9:30am. (Updated July 12, 2014): On July 11, 680News reported a road closure on eastbound Lake Shore Blvd from Parkside Dr. to Newfoundland Rd. until 1pm. That’s about 4Km one way, so my guess is the cycling leg for the elite race will bike five full laps (or six laps of 3.3-ish Km) distance for the Olympic discipline. Remembrance Dr. is also closed, possibly as a transition area.

The freeway closures are only scheduled for Sunday, according to the Toronto City Hall road closures page, for the rest of the races which start at 6:50am for the Olympic distance and duathlon. Other races begin later that morning.

Join the Finish Line Festival at Coronation Park, just east of the CNE grounds and south of Lakeshore, later on Sunday. The organizers haven’t posted their detailed plans, but last year included family-friendly attractions including pro sports, police and fire services representatives.

Toronto Island Triathlon Weekend in August 2014

Mainstream media will pay much less attention to the Toronto Island Triathlon Weekend on August 23 and 24, 2014. Their competition is confined to the Toronto Islands, with little impact on the rest of the city. Toronto Island Ferry service will start early to accommodate the competitive schedule for this event.

The Toronto Island Triathlon disciplines are give-it-a-tri, sprint triathlon, duathlon and sprint duathlon. The give-it-a-tri distance will likely require a 400m swim, 10Km bike ride and a 2500m run.

Note that these distances are much shorter than the Olympic distance for the Toronto Triathlon Festival, so these disciplines can indeed squeeze onto the Toronto Islands.

Spectators will want to follow this link to the City of Toronto’s official Toronto Islands Ferry Schedule page. Other than that: pack a picnic and some beach chairs, take the ferry and enjoy watching the competition.

On Sat. Aug. 23, the give-it-a-tri starts at 8am. Sunday’s races also begin at 8am. Remember to get to the ferry dock with plenty of time to spare! And the subway never starts nearly that early on Sundays.

Where is the Triathlon on the Toronto Islands?

(Added Aug. 11, 2014): Thanks to vigilant reader  Charlotte F. for asking about directions for spectators to the Toronto Island Triathlon. After checking their official pages describing the race course for the athletes, here is my best advice.

"Map of Toronto Islands for Triathlon" image by Mike DeHaan via Google Maps
"Map of Toronto Islands for Triathlon" image by Mike DeHaan via Google Maps

The transition zone, where triathletes mount and dismount their bicycles to switch from swim to bike, and from bike to run, is a pretty large area on the southern island. My map shows that approximate spot with the large blue circle. That map shows Hanlon’s Point in a pair of green ovals, and marks Lakeshore Ave. (on the island, NOT “Lake Shore Blvd” on mainland Toronto) with curved blue & green lines.

The action starts on the long south shore facing the open lake, with the swim at Hanlon’s Point. The bike is on Lakeshore Ave. The run starts on the north side of the transition area and finishes there, too.

My advice is to find a nearby spot “off the beaten path” but near the transition zone, and walk briskly to change locations for start, transition, and finish. Obey the course officials and respect any paths that are roped off for the athletes.

The official map pages are “Give It a Tri on Toronto Islands 2014” and “Sprint Triathlon on Toronto Islands 2014“. They also have a map for the duathlon.

Some Official Online References for these 2014 Triathlon Events in Toronto

The official online sites for these two Toronto triathlon events have extra information; here are some links.

Spectators for the July triathlons will find “Toronto Triathlon Festival Unique Downtown Course” the most useful official web page, with links to maps for each discipline. The Toronto Triathlon Festival home page outlines the whole weekend and provides lots more detail.

The Toronto Island Triathlon Weekend has one major page. I also found the Multisport Canada Race Distances page really useful for triathletes across Ontario. And you can click on the Race Distances page’s logo to go to their home page.

Newer triathletes should find that both sites are worth exploring, to learn more about entering triathlon competitions.

I’d written about these Toronto triathlons in previous years; for example:

Looking for More Annual Events or a Holiday in Toronto Canada?

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